With Bernie Sanders rising in polls, Hillary Clinton proposes campaign finance reform

Former U.S. Secretary of State  Hillary Clinton  in her 2009 official photograph.  Source :  U.S. Department of State/Official Photograph/Public Domain

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her 2009 official photograph.  Source :  U.S. Department of State/Official Photograph/Public Domain

de Blasio-linked lobbying firm, BerlinRosen, pitching Hillary Clinton's campaign finance reform proposal


Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released on Tuesday a proposal to overhaul the federal campaign finance system.  Her three-part plan was announced in on her 2016 presidential campaign Web site and in an e-mail blast to the media and to campaign supporters.

The campaign finance reform proposal calls for : (i) overturning the controversial Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), which opened the doors to unlimited amounts of money to influence elections; (ii) to call for federal legislation and enforcement of rules for public disclosure of campaign spending, including a call for resorting to the issuance of an executive order, if needed, if former U.S. Secretary of State Clinton is elected president ; and (iii) establishing a small donor matching dollar system. 

That the Clinton campaign finance reform proposal would embrace a form of the small donor matching dollar system of the New York City Campaign Finance Board came to no surprise.  Democratic Party candidates running for office on a reform platform routinely exploit the language of reform just to get elected.  For example, the Clinton campaign finance reform plan ignores the fact that during the 2013 municipal election cycle, it was revealed that people with business before the city and Super PAC's were able to game the same municipal campaign finance regulations that many reformers are now trying to extrapolate across the state and nation.

A request was made by Progress Queens to the Clinton campaign press office for comment for this article, but no immediate answer was received.  If any information is received from the Clinton campaign, that information will appear in a subsequent report. 

In a coördinated distribution of media talking points, the unregistered lobbying firm BerlinRosen, which has close ties to the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City), issued a set of talking points to provide a buffer from possible criticisms that a big money donor-linked candidate, such as former U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, would propose campaign finance reforms, yet maintain her links to a gargantuan Democratic Party-affiliated Super PAC, Priorities USA Action.  Other Super PAC's that have benefited the Clinton presidential campaign include Ready for Hillary, Correct the Record, and American Bridge 21st Century.

Advocates to get money out of politics have complained that promising to overturn the Citizens United decision is not enough, that something must also be done to end the corrupting backdoor influence of permanent government lobbyists on public policy.  In the case of the Clinton campaign's reliance of campaign contributions from lobbyists has drawn criticism from activists, including some associated with 350 Action.  This corrupting nexus was not addressed in Tuesday's campaign finance proposal announcement.  On the one hand, the Clinton campaign has announced a campaign finance reform proposal whilst, on the other hand, it keeps silent about its close association to teams and teams of lobbyists, who have acted as bundlers to the Clinton campaign.

That BerlinRosen has begun to do work for the Clinton campaign reveals that the Clinton campaign is being unprincipled in its cause to get money out of politics.  One of the name partners in BerlinRosen, Jonathan Rosen, was the subject of a searing cable news exposé broadcast by the journalist Grace Rauh on NY1's Inside City Hall news program.

As reported by Progress Queens, BerlinRosen's lucrative business opportunities are given to it by its access to inside information about the de Blasio administration, and the public has no insight about how BerlinRosen may be exploiting that insider access, except that, on a few occasions, it becomes known that the firm is or has been representing many sides on the same transaction, a revelation that became clear when it was reported that BerlinRosen was being paid by Two Trees Management, a real estate developer on whose behalf BerlinRosen consulted, in connection with a zone-busting real estate development project at the site of the old Domino Sugar factory in Brooklyn.  BerlinRosen was representing Two Trees Management at the same time when BerlinRosen was advising City Hall on other matters.  

As further reported by Progress Queens, BerlinRosen's representation of some key nonprofit advocacy groups in New York City have created the impression that the firm may be deliberately intended to soften political demands made by nonprofit advocates in order to avoid political friction for Mayor de Blasio.  At one time, BerlinRosen represented Communities United for Police Reform, a coalition of police reform groups that, for much of 2014, deliberately deescalated pressure for police reform, so as not to embarrass Mayor de Blasio.  BerlinRosen also represents the Coalition for the Homeless, a group that refuses to hold Mayor de Blasio accountable for failing to fully address the runaway spike in homelessness during his mayoral administration.

For weeks, the Clinton campaign has been under pressure from the remarkable success of the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).  Another entrant into the Democratic Party primary for the 2016 presidential race, Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig, is making campaign finance reform his primary campaign issue.  Pressure from former U.S. Secretary of State Clinton's political left has moved her to adopt leftist reforms, albeit in piecemeal fashion, as she encounters resurgent advocacy by a reform-minded electorate. 

Separately, over the Labor Day week-end, former U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Robert Reich posted on Facebook a complaint that the mainstream media were reducing the growing influence that the Sanders campaign was having on the Clinton campaign by limiting the discussion to Clinton's reaction to the Sanders campaign instead of fully reporting about Sen. Sanders' presidential campaign and his platform.

"Bernie's surge has nothing whatever to do with Hillary's campaign; and her campaign's supposed 'nervousness' is completely irrelevant to Bernie's message or the enthusiasm it's garnering," former U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Reich wrote, according to a copy of his Facebook post reproduced by Reader Supported News.

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